A new covering

While on my way down to Kodiak, I spent some time with my friends in Wasilla.  We were discussing headcoverings and I asked her how hard the veils are to make. Their  Mennonite church wears the mesh bonnets rather than veils. Before they moved to Alaska, they attended a church where the women wore veils and still has some.

Anyway, she went to her room and brought one out for me to try. It was way too big. However, it gave me an idea of how they should fit. I liked it and asked her if she had any patterns I could look at. She did.

I picked out a fabric and we sat at her big kitchen to start working. Since my church does not regulate the pattern or type of headcovering, I decided on a blue with small yellow flowers instead of the traditional white. Well, my husband arrived and we didn’t have time to finish it.

Wonderful woman that she is, she finished it and mailed it to me. It arrived this week along with a copy of the pattern. It hangs about the same length as the kerchiefs I had been wearing. It is lighter though since it is just one layer of cloth. The bottom is rounded and held closed with a snap rather than pointed and closed with a knot. So the overall effect is more feminine and distinctly Christian. I love it!

Eat more to weigh less

To lose weight, you need to eat more. That’s right, I said MORE. The trick is that it can’t just be more of anything, but must be healthy foods.

A lot of people dieting set a daily calorie target. That’s fine. The problem comes in when they don’t pay enough attention to what or when they eat to get there. Some may eat like normal, only skipping meals so they don’t go over. Or they just eat random mix of healthy and not so healthy that gets them to their target.  As a result, they frequently get hungry which leads to overeating or binging later in the day. That’s not so good.

This is where eating healthy, real foods throughout the day comes in.  They often are bulky and have protein or fiber to fill you up. These foods are packed with nutrition but not a lot of calories. As a result, you can generally eat more things in the day without going over on your calories.

For example, 1200 seems to be an amount a lot of women drop their calories down to. You can have 1200 calories of junk or 1200 calories of healthy foods. Both are 1200 calories, but your body will do much better with the healthy foods. Plus, you actually get to eat more food to get there.

Check out this sample healthy foods day (I got my calorie info at fitday.com):

Breakfast: 3/4 cup oatmeal, banana
Snack: apple and 1 slice lowfat cheddar cheese
Lunch: whole grain turkey or ham sandwich, 1 boiled egg, 1oz (large handful) roasted almonds
Snack: raw carrot with 1 tablespoon hummus
Dinner: 4 oz skinless baked chicken breast, 1/2 cup steamed mixed veggies

Total: 1238 calories.

Now check out this sample not so healthy “diet” day. Most of the calories come later in the day and it’s heavy on carbs, nearly half the calories are from carbs:

Breakfast: 1 cup Special K cereal with 2% milk
Lunch: plain garden salad no dressing and low fat, reduced calorie/sugar-free yogurt
Snack: 2 crunchy-type granola bars, 1 cup orange juice
Dinner: 1 medium chicken breast (the meat is the main part of the meal), 1/2 cup steamed mixed veggies, 1 small potato (mashed with milk but no butter)

Total: 1157 calories

So with the second day, you aren’t properly spreading your calories and have unbalanced the nutrition in favor of carbs to make up for the lack of energy early on.

You don’t have to starve or skip meals. You do need to eat smaller portions and more frequently. Since you are eating every few hours, you don’t get super hungry. At least not once you get used to the lower calorie content, and that transitional hunger would happen no matter how good or bad you ate to get your day’s calories. The first few days are the worst.

Now look at the number of items you have eaten. Let’s start with the second day. If you combine the milk and cereal into one item like most people do, you only ate 8 items all day. No wonder many dieters feel deprived. Now look at the first day. Eleven items. That’s a lot! Yet, you’ve only consumed slightly over 1200 calories.  Once you get through the first few days, your body will start to adapt and adjust to the lower calories and you’ll be amazed just how many items you are eating. You could even eat half an ounce of almonds at lunch instead and have a small serving of potato with dinner for 12 items in the day for about the same calories. That’s 50 percent more items than the diet day, yet less than a 100 calorie difference.

Another good thing about the first day is that you have constant energy throughout the day because you are constantly supplying your body with fuel. There is no mid-day slump since you eat a snack of a little protein and healthy carb in the afternoon instead of a candy bar, chips, or cookies.

I had been eating a lot of junk and fast foods this summer. As a result, I gained weight quickly. I’ve tried traditional diets including skipping meals, just eating cereal, and counting calories in the past. They didn’t work. I was never satisfied and hungry a lot. Now that I’ve switched to eating more, but of the right kids of foods, I’m not hungry at all, yet have lost 3 pounds this week. My husband has had to same results and commented to me how amazing it was he was losing weight without going hungry.

So what are the right and wrong kids of foods? Cut out all sweet, fried, processed, junk, and fast foods. Most of those are pretty self explanatory except perhaps processed foods. These are things with a long ingredient list full of chemicals. They are often pre-made items in cans or boxes. However, it also includes things like crackers, most cereals,  and bologna. Instead, look for things with short lists of natural ingredients (not necessarily organic, that’s another story). Switch to whole grains and lower your portion size for things like breads, cereal (oatmeal or shredded wheat is great), rice,and pasta.

Eat lots of fresh fruits and produce for meals and as snacks instead of junk or processed foods. An easy way to ensure you get enough veggies but not too many carbs or meat/protein calories is divide your plate into quarters. First fill half with fruits and/or veggies. The other quarters are for lean protein and healthy carb. Then do not have seconds except the fruit or veggies (without sauce).

If you are interested in learning more about this concept of eating more to weigh less, I’d urge you to pick up a copy of The Eat Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno. Also, get a free online food journal (like fitday.com or CalorieKing.com) to help keep track of your calories and nutrition each day.  I don’t ever want to go back to my old ways of eating!

Fitness update 2011 #5

I gained some weight over the summer, but now I’ve lost most of it. I know yo-yo dieting isn’t good for you, nor all the junk I ate on vacation so both are on the way OUT!

As for my diet, I must stop eating junk. I know it can be hard. I was addicted to junk for a long time. My brother still is and was recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes because of poor diet. That was a real wake up call for me as to the importance of eating right if you want to stay healthy.

I recently read the book The Eat Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno. It tells how to use healthy eating to get healthy and obtain your goal weight. It’s easy to read and understand. She was once overweight too so she’s writing from experience, not just theory like a lot of diet books. It’s not a fad diet, but a healthy eating plan you can follow safely for the rest of your life.

Several of the ideas in the book are things I’ve talked about before on this blog. Cut out sweet, fried, processed, fast, and junk foods. Switch to whole grains for things like pasta, rice, cereal, and breads as well as reduce their portion size. Have lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Divide your plate into quarters. First fill half with fruits and veggies. The other quarters are for the lean protein and whole grain or other healthy carb like sweet potato. Drink just water or plain tea. If you like juice, have the whole fruit instead. That will give you fiber and save you a lot of calories.

So, following the ideas in the book, I’ve lost 3 pounds this week without starving myself or even being hungry. Amazing huh? My family and I have more energy. The kids are better behaved. The only drawback is that I’m now COLD! I’ve started wearing a sweater in the house even though the temperature is the same (65 degrees). However, I’ll gladly put on a sweater if it means taking off fat.

I’m considering a spin-off blog devoted to just fitness. That would allow this blog (AK Homeschool Fun) to go back to being my homeschool and personal blog. I’ll still have these occasional fitness updates, but the bulk of my fitness thoughts would be posted on the new site. What do you think of this idea?

Making grammer fun: Words are CATegorical

Do you need a way to supplement your grammar or math program? Are your kids getting tired of workbooks and worksheets? Is your child having trouble remembering the difference between an adverb and an adjective or a noun and pronoun? Can you have fun and learn at the same time? If you said yes to any of these, I have a great thing for you, the Words are CATegorical series of books by Brian P. Cleary.

These books are great fun! My son loves them and I will be introducing them to my daughter for 2nd grade this year. They are available in hard or soft cover. Through silly rhymes and crazy illustrations, kids learn the basics of grammar. There are also available for math and language arts. He just read the title list and is begging for me to get more. The great thing is that since they are sooo silly, they stick with the kids better than a dull explanation would.

The Words are CATegorical series includes:

Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What is an Adverb?

Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What is an Adjective?

How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear? What are Homonyms and Homophones?

I and You and Don’t Forget Who: What is a Pronoun?

A Lime, A Mime, and a Pool of Slime: More about Nouns

A Mink, A Fink, a Skating Rink: What is a Noun?

Pitch and Throw, Grasp and Know: What is a Synonym?

Quirky, Jerky, Extra Perky: More about Adjectives

Slide and Slurp, Scratch and Burp: More about Verbs

Stop and Go, Yes and No: What is an Antonym?

To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: What is a Verb?

Under, Over, By the Clover: What is a Preposition?

The Math is CATegorical series:

The Action of Subtraction

How Long or How Wide?: A Measuring Guide

The Mission of Addition

On the Scale, a Weighty Tale

Windows, Rings, and Grapes- A Look at Different Shapes

Other Language Arts related books:

Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes: A Very Silly Alphabet Book

Rainbow Soup: Adventures in Poetry

Rhyme & PUNishment: Adventures in Wordplay

Summer update and back to the books

Sorry for the long absence here. We have been busy this spring and early summer. In May, we went to Florida for a week vacation. Everyone had a great time at Epcot, Disney World, and Sea World. Pluto snuck up behind Richard while we were sitting on a bench taking a break. It was so funny! I took some pictures before he (Pluto) went to the group picture area where the line was about half an hour (!) for a picture. A stilt-walker teased Karen with a silk ribbon during a parade. We went to Cape Canavaral Space Port but missed the shuttle launch by 2 days. 😦 We also spent a day at the beach and got the obligatory tourist sun burn.

Then a week with everyone back in Fairbanks before I took the kids and drove down the Alaska highway to visit their grandparents in Washington state. 2 weeks of driving (1 week each way) for 1 week visit, but it was better than not going and still cheaper than flying. We bought a new tent and camped out all but 2 nights along the way. We saw lots of wildlife including mountain sheep and little lambs, moose and calves, bison and calves, caribou, deer (one walked right through our camp just 10 feet from the tent!), elk, a coyote carrying its meal of ground squirrel, ground squirrels, a wolf, and a mama black bear with 2 little cubs. We also swam in hot springs and visited some museums.

While in Spokane, we went to Cat Tails wildlife park and Richard hand fed a lion! That’s right, he fed a lion. The cats are behind a tall chain link fence. There is a small plexiglass cage thing with a small hole in it facing the fence you stand in. The trainer puts chunks of raw meat on a plastic skewer and you push it through the hole for the lion to take. I did one piece. You can really tell how powerful they are. This was a big male lion. We were told it is the one that roars at the start of MGM movies. Whenever the train whistles or an emergency vehicle goes past with the siren on, he roars so that must have been how he was trained.

Now 10 days with everyone here. Tomorrow I leave with the kids again. This time to Wasilla and Kodiak for about week.

As a result, we haven’t yet finished the school year. There’s still about a month or so left. I squeezed in 3 days of school this week, but will start again in earnest when we get back from Kodiak. The good news is that the books for this upcoming school year arrived while we were traveling. After finishing up this year’s school, Richard will move up to 5th grade and Karen will start 2nd.

I haven’t decided yet if I want to use the Christian Light Education math or Math-U-See for her. She seems to do better with more traditional style textbooks like CLE.

Here’s what they will be studying:


MATH: Math-U-See Beta or CLE math 200

READING: CLE reading 200- phonics, comprehension

LANGUAGE ARTS: CLE LA 200- grammar, punctuation, handwriting, spelling

BIBLE: CLE Bible 200- Old Testament

SCIENCE: Alaskan biology coloring book, CLE science 200 (birds)


MATH: Math-U-See Gamma (fractions)

READING: CLE reading 500- context clues, figures of speech, poetry, inferences

LANGUAGE ARTS: CLE LA 500 – advanced sentence diagrams, verb tenses, subject-verb agreement

BIBLE: CLE Bible 500-Old Testament & maps

WRITING: Institute for Writing Excellence level A

SCIENCE: Alaskan biology written by my old college prof Ron Smith